This was my first time picking up a novel by Mariah Stewart. My mom has been reading her for a while now and I have been meaning to pick up some of her novels. But since her work is broken up into trilogies, I figured I would find the first one for one of them. Then I read about Mercy Street and saw it was the beginning of a new series and it was available for review. I snatched it up and it will not be my last. Ms. Stewart has a clean, concise style that is perfect for suspense.
The main story is about Mallory Russo and her search to find out what happened when four teenage friends meet at the park that resulted in two dead and the other two missing. Mallory is an ex cop who didn't want to leave the force. She was a good cop on the fast track to promotion. She was derailed when her partner did something stupid and wanted her to lie for him. She refused and was ostracized by the rest of the force. She had to resign or risk her life every day because no one would back her up. Luckily the chief of police wasn't just her boss but her friend. He in turn recommends her to the principal of the local Catholic High School. Father Burch wants to hire Mallory to search for his two missing students, Ryan and Courtney and in turn prove that they didn't kill their friends. In the course of her investigation, she joins forces with the new detective hired to replace her on the force, Charlie Wanamaker. He is a local boy who has come home to help take care of his mother and sister. They are attracted to each other and work really well together. The secondary story is about Father Burch's cousin Robert Magellan. He is footing the bill for Mallory's investigation on the urging of his cousin. Robert knows all about missing people and unanswered questions. Over a year ago, Robert's wife and their six month old son disappeared without a trace coming back from a party. I won't go into any more details because this is an excellent story that anyone who enjoys a good suspense with a little romance thrown should pick up.
I was really impressed with Ms. Stewart's writing and plotting. This was a really enjoyable suspense that kept me turning the pages in anticipation. Mallory and Charlie come across as trained cops with experience, which isn't always the case in novels. Even minor characters are three dimensional. I am really interested in the next book in the series, Forgotten, which comes out in August. I will also be hunting up Ms. Stewart's backlist as well.
On a balmy spring evening, four high school seniors—three boys and a girl—enter a park in the small Pennsylvania city of Conroy. The next morning, two of the boys are found shot to death, and the girl and the third boy are gone. After three weeks with no leads and no sign of either of the two missing teenagers, the chief of police begins to wonder if they too were victims. But with no other suspects, the authorities conclude that one of these kids was the shooter. The missing boy's grandmother, a secretary at the local parish church, maintains his innocence. On her behalf, the parish priest, Father Kevin Burch, hires former detective Mallory Russo as a private investigator to figure out what happened in the park that night. Mallory had ended her nine-year stint with the Conroy police force some time ago after becoming a target of a smear campaign. Now a true-crime author, Mallory is surprised to receive the priest's offer—and highly intrigued by the case. She can't help but accept the challenge—especially when she learns that her investigation will be financed by Father Burch's cousin the reclusive billionaire Robert Magellan, a man whose own wife and infant son disappeared without a trace a year ago, a man who understands the heartache of not knowing what happened to a loved one. Detective Charlie Wanamaker is facing another sort of tragedy. He fled Conroy years ago with no plans to return to what he considered a dying factory town—until a family emergency brought him back. Finding the situation much worse than he'd thought, he trades his job as a big-city detective for one with the Conroy police department. Assigned to the park shooting case, Charlie quickly realizes that the initial investigation left a lot of questions unanswered. Unofficially, he teams up with Mallory to uncover the truth and find the two kids, dead or alive. What Charlie and Mallory discover will take them down a twisted path that leads to an old unsolved murder—and justice for a killer with a heart of stone.